Purchase Orders over £50k

Tendering And Quotation Procedures For Purchase orders Over £50,000

Details of UCL Quotation, Tenders and Contract rules are contained in Financial Regulation 162 to 165. Rules for the Ordering of Goods and Services are covered in regulations 101 to 107. These regulations set out the official framework but more detailed guidance on the tendering process is available on the Procurement Services website.

The essential procedures in relation the issue of purchase orders for items over £50,000 are set out below:

1. Requirements

Competitive tenders or quotations are normally required for all purchases over £50,000.

2. Exceptions

There are certain exceptions for example in cases of specialised supply but the Head of Procurement must approve the waiving of tender and quotation procedures in writing before an order is issued. 

3. Procedures for departments

  • The checklist for purchase orders over £50k must be completed in full and a quote from the successful tender must be attached.  The checklist can be found above.
  • The checklist must be signed by the person completing the form, the Head of Department, the School Finance Director and Procurement OR approved online by each party on the finance system MyFinance.
  • In cases where departments wish to waive tender procedures they must submit a single source justification with the checklist so that Procurement Services can approve under one of the exceptional conditions set out in the full tender and quotation procedures.
  • The checklist, quote of chosen supplier and other relevant paperwork (banker’s guarantee, single source justification) should be attached to the requisition on MyFinance before submission.  After submission the requisition will go to Procurement and then each level of the hierarchy to approve until ultimately being approved by central Finance.
  • When the requisition has been approved on line, the system will automatically create a PO.
  • The department may then print and despatch the order and VAT zero rating certificate if relevant.

4. Formal Contracts

Formal Contracts   If tender process results in a formal contract between UCL and a supplier then a confirmation Purchase Order should be issued in all cases, and the procedures set out in this document will apply regarding approval of the order.

5. Payments in Advance

Payments in Advance. If the checklist indicates that a payment in advance is to be made then Departments are expected to arrange an Advance Payment Guarantee form the Suppliers bank. The procedures for Advance Payment guarantees are set out below in item 8.

6. VAT Ratings

VAT zero-rating applies primarily where the purchase relates to medical equipment.

7. Orders in excess of the EC limit (currently £172,514 excluding VAT)

Departments should obtain advice from Procurement Services.  In normal circumstances departments must advertise in the Official Journal of the European Community, or OJEC.

A copy of this advert should be attached to the checklist referred to above.

8. Procedures regarding Payments in Advance

UCL policy is that prepayments should be avoided because of the potential loss of funds if delivery does not take place.

It is however recognised that in certain circumstances payment has to be made to a supplier in advance of delivery, particularly where the contract is of a protracted nature or involves manufacture to order. The risk is that the supplier is unable to deliver or ceases to trade and UCL finds itself having to seek redress through the Courts.

It is therefore recommended that in all cases where a significant payment in advance is required an advance payment guarantee is obtained from the supplier's bankers. All major banks have their own forms and standard wording.

In some cases the supplier may attempt to pass on the cost of arranging the guarantee to UCL. If so the Department must meet the cost, not central Finance. Some discretion should be used and if a Department insists that it will take the risk and live with the consequences then a judgement has to be made as to whether a modest advance payment can be paid without a guarantee.

In all cases however it is essential to deal with a reputable supplier and the department concerned must be able to meet the costs from other sources should it become necessary.

Wherever possible it is recommended that payments are staggered so that they are roughly in line with the work carried out by the supplier or the service provided. This is particularly relevant in the case of annual maintenance contracts. Monthly or quarterly payments are preferable to an annual amount paid in advance.

Further advice can be obtained from Procurement Services.


Eleanor Morrissey
Head of Accounts Payable
August 2014

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Page last modified on 16 aug 16 14:23